Kyuss Lives! / The Sword / MonstrO Sound Academy, Toronto ON September 16

Kyuss Lives! / The Sword / MonstrO Sound Academy, Toronto ON September 16
Kyuss Lives! kicked off their North American tour in Toronto and perhaps fans knew their good fortune, because they came out in droves. After all, it's ten times better to catch a band during the early stages of a long haul than near the end.

Despite MonstrO's debut album being released a mere two weeks before the show, the supergroup -- consisting of bassist Kyle Sanders (brother of Mastodon's Troy Sanders and former bassist for Bloodsimple), drummer Bevan Davies (Bloodsimple, Danzig), guitarist Juan Montoya (Torche) and guitarist/vocalist Charlie Suarez (Sunday Driver) -- performed well, but thanks to an ill-conceived set list, which dipped when a slower song was bookmarked between two heavy ones, the stage veterans lost the crowd's attention and made a scant dent when they could have left a lasting impression.

Next up were Austin's the Sword, who brought to the table some good ol' fashioned heavy riffage; bluesy, countrified jams; and guitarist Kyle Shutt's pretty long blond hair (which flowed nicely, thanks to a fan onstage). Their set -- primarily consisting of tracks from 2008's Gods of the Earth ("How Heavy This Axe") and 2010's Warp Riders ("The Chronomancer II: Nemesis") -- started off extremely hard, and thanks to the audience's wild enthusiasm, ended on a positive note.

But the crowd was clearly there to see Kyuss Lives!, a reformation of the legendary California stoner rock band that served as a breeding ground for Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme. All thoughts of bassist Nick Oliveri's impending prison sentence were quickly forgotten, when former Kyuss member and ex-Obsessed axeman Scott Reeder took over bass duties and promptly wiped the floor with the two opening bands and Oliveri's musical legacy. They stuck to fan favourites, such as "One Inch Man," "Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop" and "El Rodeo," and the group's encore included probably their most popular single, "Green Machine." But despite the band members being older and no longer hosting generator parties in rural Palm Springs, one could argue that this formation is the strongest Kyuss have ever been.

Singer John Garcia's vocals were stunningly on point, despite the uneasy look he had on his face for a good portion of the set -- one couldn't tell if he was simply nervous because it was the first show of the tour or if he was mistrustful of the audience. He alternated between standing near the back of the stage with awesome drummer and original Kyuss member Brant Bjork and doing the oddly Elvis-esque dance moves that were one of the many unique attributes that initially put Kyuss on the map as a stellar live act.
Toronto was fortunate to witness the first performance of Kyuss Lives!'s North American tour, making hopes even bigger for the band to produce new material soon.